Fourth entry in the short story series “Helga’s Sessions”. Helga and Doctor Bliss discuss Helga’s relationship with Olga.
Unnecessarily Long And Precise Legal Disclaimer: I don’t own the rights to Hey Arnold or any of its characters. I’m using these characters without permission, but I’m writing this purely for my own pleasure – not for the sake of copyright infringement – and therefore I wouldn’t try to make money off this story even if someone were willing to pay for it, nor would I attempt to use it infringe on the profits of Nickelodeon or Viacom Incorporated.
Author’s Note: This session takes place on the same Thursday as the start of the montage in “Monkeyman” when Arnold is introducing the titular character into mainstream society. I’ve decided the scenes where Arnold tells his classmates about Monkeyman, waits for him at the docks, and invites him over to dinner and then ice cream happen on Wednesday (the day after “Helga’s Third Session” and the beginning of the Monkeyman episode and the day before the session you’re about to read) and the montage begins Thursday night (several hours after the session you’re about to read).
a story based on a television series and set of characters that are all the creation of Craig Bartlet and intellectual property of Nickelodeon and Viacom
“Helga’s Fourth Session”
Doctor Bliss bid farewell to her patient and went back to her desk. She sat down, took a sip of coffee, and looked over her schedule, finding that her next patient was Helga Pataki. She sighed with sadness and frustration; two evenings ago she’d called Bob Pataki to discuss setting up a family session, and she’d found herself jolting the phone away from her ear as he yelled loud enough to wake the dead about how real Patakis had nothing wrong with them and didn’t need therapy. Once he stopped shouting, it took all her professionalism not to express her anger on Helga’s behalf, her anger on behalf of all her other patients for Bob’s implication that there was something “wrong with them” for needing her help, or her personal resentment at hearing such close-minded stigma against her occupation.
But this occupation required a great deal of professionalism, and she had more than enough to stay friendly and polite and not express any of the unpleasant emotions she was feeling in that moment. She calmly tried to explain to Helga’s father that therapy was simply a tool for overcoming challenges and that using family therapy to communicate with one’s family was no more a bad thing than using a hammer to pound nails. She’d hoped this analogy would help Mr. Pataki understand, but it just provoked another loud rant, this one filled with some rather colorful expletives, and then he hung up before she could get another word in.
She’d never met the man and her chances of ever doing so seemed much more doubtful now than they had before, but he’d certainly sounded and acted about how she’d expected from Helga’s descriptions; loud, aggressive, and difficult to reason with. But then, that was probably how most of her classmates viewed Helga herself, and Bliss knew that Helga had another side besides that one. Quite likely, she thought, there was also another side to Bob, if only he would show it to his youngest daughter. I just hope I didn’t get Helga into trouble she thought with concern.
Whatever happened at the Pataki household after that phone call, she knew she’d probably find out soon, as the clock showed that it was time for Helga’s appointment. She opened the door and sure enough, Helga walked in and took her seat on the couch, looking even more glum than usual. “Hello, Helga” Bliss said gently, “how are you?” She was pretty sure she knew the answer to that question already, but she wanted to ask it in a way that wouldn’t make the poor little girl feel even worse.
“Rotten” Helga replied resentfully, “Bob gave me one of his trademark trophy room angry lectures last night.”
Bliss raised an eyebrow. “Angry trophy room lectures?”
“Yeah” Helga explained “there’s this room filled with shelf after shelf after shelf full of Olga’s trophies, and whenever Bob’s mad at me he sends me there and blows up at me about how mad he is.”
“What was he mad about?” Bliss asked, though she had a pretty good guess. She even felt a twinge of guilt for a moment, but quickly reminded herself that she’d honestly been trying to help Helga and Bob’s reaction wasn’t her fault.
“Your phone call” Helga said with weary, casual sadness. Then, with more resentful and snide tone, she continued “He had this big spiel about how Patakis aren’t supposed to need therapy, and I’m not dragging the rest of our family down with me, and I need to keep my mouth shut in front of ‘the shrink’ from now on, and something about how Olga would’ve handled the situation instead…I think there was more after that, but I just tuned him out.”
“So I take it he’s not planning on coming to a family therapy session, then?” Bliss confirmed disappointedly.
“What about Miriam?
“She agreed with Bob and then said that she needed a smoothie, so I’m pretty sure she’s not coming, either.”
“I’m sorry, Helga.”
“Eh, not your fault, Doc.”
“I hope you understand that whatever your parents say, this isn’t something to be ashamed of. Therapy’s just a tool and it’s meant to help you.”
“I know” Helga assured her.
“So what else has happened in your life, lately?”
“Well, Arnold told me and the rest of the gang a weird story at recess yesterday.”
“A weird story about what?”
“He says a guy named Monkeyman saved him from being mugged.”
“Is he connected in some way to the man they called Pigeon Man?” asked Doctor Bliss.
“You know about Pigeon Man?” Helga asked with mild surprise. Sid always claimed Gerald’s stories had been passed down “from kid generation to kid generation”, so she’d always assumed that only kids knew about them.
“The legends you kids like to pass around come up in sessions occasionally” she replied truthfully. She thought back to some of the other eccentric children she’d counseled and the even more eccentric people some of them said existed according to the legends. In retrospect, Helga’s confession of making bubblegum sculptures of Arnold no longer seemed as odd to her as it had during their first session.
“Well, apparently this one wasn’t just a legend. I saw Arnold and Monkeyman having ice cream together last night. And no, I don’t think he’s connected to Pigeon Man in any way. You’d have to ask Gerald to be sure, though. He’s the expert on this stuff.”
“And do you feel something particularly strongly about Arnold having ice cream with Monkeyman?” Bliss asked curiously.
“Well, he said he was doing it to thank him for saving him, so it reminded me again – as if I needed another reminder – how thoughtful and kind and considerate my football-headed love god is!” Helga said in her “I love Arnold” monologue voice before sighing happily.
“Any other thoughts on Arnold and Monkeyman?” Bliss asked.
“No, it’s just something that happened in my life and you asked me what’s going on in my life lately.”
Bliss could see that this wasn’t likely to lead anywhere they hadn’t gone before, so she changed topics. “Is there anything else happening in your life that you’d like to talk about?”
“Well” Helga replied, her voice resentful again, “if you’ve got any tips on how I could survive Olga’s visit in two weeks, I’d love to hear them.”
“Why do you think Olga’s visit will be hard for you to survive?” asked Bliss.
“Like I’ve said before, whenever she comes over, I’m pushed even further than usual into the darkest corners of Bob and Miriam’s brains because I’m not perfect like she is!” Helga snarled with a pained edge to her voice. This was the point where Bliss usually would’ve asked Helga if she’d tried talking to her parents about it, but after Helga’s answer to a similar question during their last session and Bob’s reaction to being asked to attend family therapy for Helga’s sake, Bliss figured the answer was obvious by now and that Helga would say so. Instead, she asked if Helga had tried talking to Olga about it. “Why should I talk to that witch about the evil she’s doing?” Helga spat, “I’m sure she knows!”
“Has she ever told you that she knows?” asked Doctor Bliss.
“She did once say that I must think she’s lucky for all the attention she gets from them.”
“Does she understand that your parents rarely pack you edible lunches or that your father often calls you Olga’s name?”
“She has to!” Helga insisted, “Doesn’t she?”
“I don’t know, Helga” Bliss replied calmly, “I haven’t met any of your family, but from what you’ve told me, it’s not clear to me whether or not Olga realizes the degree to which you’re being neglected.”
Helga sat up on the couch, clasping her hands together between her legs and staring down at them. Sadly, she said “Well, even if she doesn’t, it’s not like I’ll ever get her to listen. She’s only slightly more responsive than Bob and Miriam.”
“Slightly more responsive in what sense?”
“Well, she acknowledges my existence more than Bob and Miriam do, but she still doesn’t listen to what I have to say. I remember this one time when she became a student teacher at my class. She said she wanted us to be closer sisters” Helga had stood up and was pacing back and forth now, trying to blow off some of her excess angry energy. “So I said ‘okay, but we need to establish some boundaries’, but she’s like” Helga did an unflattering impression of Olga’s sugary high-pitched voice “’oh no, baby sister, that’s not necessary. I’d never do anything to embarrass you.’ And what does she do the very next day in class?” she was seething with rage now at the memory “She tells everyone a humiliating story about how I was…” she stopped for a moment, tensing up even further from embarrassment as she remembered the story.
“How you were…?” asked Bliss. Not for the first time in a therapy session with Helga, the room became silent save for the clock ticking. “I’m sorry Helga; you don’t have to share whatever that story was if you don’t want to. But remember that if you ever decide you do want to share it with me, I’ll keep it in confidence, just like everything else we talk about. No one besides the two of us will ever know.”
Helga sighed and grumbled “I was bed wetter till age seven.”
“Was that difficult to say out loud?”
“Well, it’s natural, Helga. None of us are born with the ability to control those parts of our body when we’re asleep, and there’s no set age by which everyone has managed it…”
“I know, I know!” Helga yelled hurriedly, feeling quite anxious to drive the conversation away from this topic as quickly as possible.
“I had the same problem until I was twelve” Bliss said truthfully.
That caught Helga completely off guard, and she stared up at her psychologist with bulging eyes and asked “Really?”
“Yes, really” Bliss assured her.
“How can you talk about it now so…easily? I mean, you don’t sound embarrassed or ashamed or anything!”
“Well, it was very embarrassing at the time. But I survived it, no one got hurt, and it wasn’t the end of the world. These things happen.”
“I guess” Helga said unconvinced as she returned to the couch.
“So whatever happened with Olga as your student teacher?”
Helga sighed with frustration as her mind traveled back to that conversation a couple weeks ago. “Well, Arnold said I should sit Olga down and talk to her and make her listen to me, so I did.” Helga paused then, a look of realization and surprise slowly dawning on her face.
“What is it, Helga?” asked Bliss. “And what did you tell her?”
“Well, I told her that I couldn’t stand her…and she honestly seemed really surprised and upset about it. And then she asked me what she could do about it, so I told her to move to Alaska and teach Inuit children instead…and she actually did it!
“You sound surprised” Bliss noted with especially great interest as she looked up from the notes she’d been taking about what Helga had said to Olga.
“Well, it’s pretty rare for her to actually listen” said Helga.
“Why do you think it is that she listened that time but not any other time?”
Helga gave it some thought for a moment. “Well, I guess I was a little tougher that time when I told her I needed to talk to her.”
“Tougher in what sense?” asked Bliss.
“Well, that time I said ‘Olga, we really need to talk, now!’”
“And what did you usually say all those times when she didn’t listen?”
“Uh, well, earlier I said we should set boundaries, like don’t boss me around at school too much, and don’t meddle in my personal affairs…”
“Well, it sounds like you were fairly direct with her that time” said Bliss. “I wonder why she didn’t listen that time but she did that later time when you said you needed to talk.”
Helga laughed bitterly and threw her arms up in the air in frustration. “You’re asking me to explain how Olga’s brain works? You might as well be asking an alien from the planet Venus to explain how a Martian thinks. No, wait, that’s not different enough! You might as well be asking an alien from Mercury how one from Pluto works!” (Author’s Note 5: I figure this story takes place sometime in the late 90s, so Pluto’s still considered a planet).
“But if you had to guess why that time went differently, what would your best guess be?”
For the next three minutes, Helga carefully considered the question. Finally, she said “well, I did pretty much tell her that what she was doing was making our relationship worse – making it even harder for me to stand her – and that we’d be closer if she left. She spent most of the visit telling me how she wanted to get closer to me. I guess the fact that she listened means she must’ve meant it, in her own twisted way.”
“Do you think she still wants to get close to you?” asked Bliss.
“Well, she does still send me post cards from Alaska and reply to my post cards, so maybe she does” Helga guessed. “I always assumed the reason she’s so touchy-feely was because she wanted to pretend to care about me, or she wanted to be annoying, but I guess now that I think about it, maybe she does care.”
“Touchy-feely?” Bliss asked. Helga did another impression of her older sister for the next minute to help her psychologist get the idea, being sure to emphasize how often Olga hugged her or kissed her on the check when she didn’t want it, annoyingly smothered her with affection, or told her what a “special bond” they had because Helga was her “baby sister”.
It was quite a clear and vivid picture Helga was painting, Bliss thought, and she made sure to take notes about it on her clipboard. She couldn’t help but feel curious as whether or not her own impression of Olga would be the same if she ever met her, how Olga viewed herself, and what kind of impression she left on other people. I wonder if I could ever get her in for a sister session, even if Bob and Miriam won’t come she thought. Maybe getting Olga to understand what Helga’s feeling would at least give her someone else to talk to about the way her parents are making her feel. Maybe Olga could even get through to them. Out loud she asked “Do you want to get close to her?”
“Not if it was her weird definition of closeness” replied Helga bitterly. Then she glanced down at the couch and with a slight hint of sadness and vulnerability in her voice added “but if it were the kind of closeness where she actually listened to what I said and cared what I thought…well, yeah, I’d like that a lot. I don’t see that ever happening, though.”
“Why not?” asked Bliss.
“Because Olga usually only cares about herself” Helga replied, sounding very hurt when she said it.
“But just a moment ago, didn’t you say that maybe you’d been wrong and she cared after all?” asked Bliss.
“Well, maybe she cares for now, I mean” Helga explained, “but I already told you about the time Miriam started caring when she took over the beeper store, and then went back to not caring like usual. The same thing’s happened with Bob before, and it’ll probably happen with Olga, too.”
So Bob’s had moments of getting better as well Bliss thought. That’s somewhat encouraging and very interesting. Out loud she asked “when has it happened with Bob before?”
“Well, there was this one time Bob got me tickets to see Rats: The Musical. I actually wanted to see Wrestlemania, but Bob found this magazine page I’d torn out that had an ad for Wrestlemania on one side and an ad for Rats on the other side, and I guess he took a fifty/fifty chance and guessed wrong about which one I wanted to see. But the point is, he was trying for once. Also, during Thanksgiving Bob and Miriam and Olga were all really upset when I left the house without telling them because they didn’t know where I was. They called the police and put up wanted posters and everything.” Smiling at the memory, she blissfully added “mom and dad even said they were glad to have me as their daughter.” Bliss noticed that Helga finally called them “mom and dad” again instead of “Bob and Miriam”, and that she said it with a much warmer tone than she’d ever spoken about her family before.
Looking down at the couch again, tears started to stream down Helga’s eyes. It wasn’t loud like when she’d cried during her second session; it was soft, quiet crying. Another thing about it that was different from her second session tears was that she didn’t try to hold it back. By now, she felt completely safe in this room, her temporary sanctuary where she was made to feel like she mattered and rarely needed to hide her feelings.
Softly through her tears, she said “I remember when Bob and Miriam said that, about being proud that I was their daughter. I’d always wanted to hear them say something like that. It’s the last time I can remember anyone in my family really making me feel…………………..loved. Last time I can remember anyone making me feel that way, actually.” And then, her throat hurting and her voice a shaky whisper as she spoke, she added “it’s the last time anyone besides you, Arnold or Phoebe ever” she choked for a moment, then sobbed, then continued “ever made me…………………feel….………………..…like they cared about me at all” she sobbed some more “or like I……………….…mattered at all.” Now her sobbing got louder, still not nearly as loud as when she’d cried two sessions ago, but pretty loud nonetheless.
A very sympathetic Doctor Bliss got a bunch of tissues for Helga, who cried for the next five minutes. How many other students who’d come to her for counseling had complained about Helga? How many of them had fumed, enraged and resentful of this or that awful thing she’d called them? How many had cried like Helga was crying now, hurt and wanting to know what they’d ever done to make her hate them so much? If only they could understand how vulnerable and timid she really was on the inside, or how her cruelty to them was really just a symptom of fear that they would otherwise be cruel to her, or how much more pain she was in then she’d ever inflicted on them.
In fact, it seemed quite plausible that many of them would greatly enjoy her company and visa versa if they could somehow get past that layer of anti-social behavior she used to hide her other feelings besides her anger. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel quite so lonely, or at least school could be a supportive environment where she could escape the lonely life she had at home. Unfortunately, that would only happen if she wasn’t too afraid to give more of her schoolmates a chance and they weren’t too angry at her or scared of her or hurt by her to give her a chance, and right now it didn’t seem like either side was going to make the risky move anytime soon.
“Helga” Bliss finally asked, “would you like to keep talking about the subject at hand, or would you like a break? If you want, we could play a game, or talk about something light that will make you feel better, or take a walk, or we could just sit here in silence for a moment.” Helga chose a walk at first, and she wore her trench coat as she and Bliss walked around outside. She saw several happy looking families outside, however, which only made her feel worse, so after just a little under three minutes they went back inside and played cards for a while. By the time they resumed the session, their break had been almost thirteen minutes long.
“Do you feel ready to pick up where we left off, Helga?” asked Bliss.
“As ready as I’ll ever be” Helga said glumly.
“It’s okay if you’re not ready, you know” Bliss gently assured her patient. “If you’d rather post-pone the conversation we were just having until a later session, I can make note of it and move on to something else for today. Or, we could break longer if you’d like. We still have about twenty-seven minutes left.”
“No” Helga said “let’s get back to it”.
“Alright then” Bliss checked over her notes. “You said your family telling you they were proud to have you was the last time anyone besides Arnold, Phoebe or I made you feel like you mattered.”
“Yeah” Helga acknowledged quietly.
“Why do you think that is?”
“Well, like I said, no one else acts like they care about me”.
“Do you feel that you need other people to care about you in order to feel like you matter?” Bliss asked gently.
That question caught Helga completely off guard. “Huh?” Bliss repeated the question. “Well, don’t most people?”
“What do you think might happen if you decided for yourself that you matter, regardless of what other people think?” asked Bliss.
“I guess that probably would make me a lot happier, but I’m not sure how to do it” replied Helga.
“Remember that list we made at our last session of things that you like about yourself?”
“Yeah” said Helga, her face slowly getting happier. She could see where this was going.
“Would you still believe you have all of those traits, even if someone told you that you didn’t?”
“Yes” she affirmed proudly.
“Then what reason do you have to ever doubt that you matter?”
“None!” Helga declared proudly, leaping off the couch and then standing up on it. She yelled excitedly “I’m important! I’m worth respect! I’M PROUD OF BEING HELGA G. PATAKI!”
Meanwhile, Arnold stopped for a moment as he and Gerald were walking away from the boarding house on their way to the arcade. “Did you hear something, Gerald?” Gerald shook his head, and Arnold looked puzzled for a moment, then shrugged and kept walking.
Helga panted excitedly, intoxicated by the strong good feelings racing through her. “Man that felt good!” she yelled.
Bliss stifled an amused but good-natured chuckle. “Good. I’m glad.” Naturally, this made Helga feel slightly less terrible about the way her family treated her, but it didn’t even come close to taking the pain away completely. They continued to discuss the subject for the next eleven minutes or so, with a particular emphasis on trying to understand and then the subject came back to the day Helga confessed to changing Olga’s grade. “How did it feel to confess to that?”
“Annoying” Helga grumbled bitterly.
“Why was it annoying?” Bliss asked.
Helga grumbled bitterly again. “My stupid conscience got the better of me. My football-headed conscience, I mean.”
“What do you mean by ‘got the better of’ you?”
Helga’s passionate frustration flared up again, and she stood up and paced around the room angrily. “He just had to make me feel all guilty about giving Olga exactly what she deserved, and then I went and undid it! And ever since then she’s kept stealing mom and dad’s love from me and ruining my life!”
“And how has she done those things?” asked Bliss.
“Like I said” Helga threw her exasperation at her therapist, “by being perfect”.
“Has she done any other bad things to you?” Bliss asked.
“She almost never listens when I try to tell her something important” Helga snarled through gritted teeth, wondering why she was being asked to repeat herself.
“Anything else?” Bliss asked.
“No” Helga spat, “but isn’t that enough?”
“Why do you think she does those things, Helga?” Bliss asked, curious what Helga would say.
“I don’t know” Helga moaned irritably.
“What did she say when you confessed to changing her grade?”
“She said it was rotten thing to do, and she said I was lucky mom and dad didn’t pay any attention to me.”
“Did she explain why she thought you were lucky?”
“Something about how she had to perform for them a lot” Helga said dismissively, “I think she said it made her feel like a wind-up doll.”
“And what did you think when she said that?”
“Well” Helga paused and thought back for a moment, “I guess at the time I was kind of surprised, but now I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me at all. I mean, Olga’s always been whiny.”
“Would it be accurate to say, then, that you don’t think she has a valid reason for being unhappy?”
“She’s not the one who’s being treated like she doesn’t exist and can’t come to them for help with her problems or count on them to pack a real lunch for her.”
“And you have every right to be angry about that” Bliss said gently, “no one should have to go through what you’ve been through. But I keep wondering if your sister understands your problems and concerns or the harm she’s doing by not helping you address them.”
Helga threw her arms up in the air and yelled “how could she not know?”
“Has she ever said anything to indicate that she does know?”
Helga sighed and returned to the couch, having tired herself out from all her anger. She quietly, unenthusiastically mumbled “no, but she never listens when I try to tell her. She either doesn’t know or doesn’t care, I guess…….probably both.”
Then, a thought occurred to Doctor Bliss. “Has she ever talked to you or your parents about her own problems?”
“No” Helga replied, “nobody ever talks about problems in our house. The day Bob found out I was going to have therapy, he told me not to tell you anything. He said Patakis sweep things under the rug instead of talking about them.”
“Would you like to hear any of my theory, Helga?”
Helga shrugged, not much energy left in her at this point. “Sure, why not?”
“These are only my guesses” she made sure to clarify, “but I wonder if your sister doesn’t want to acknowledge that anyone in your family has problems because she knows that your father doesn’t want to talk about them. If your parents really make her feel like a ‘wind-up doll’ but she hasn’t told them, she may be afraid to let them know that she doesn’t want the attention. And if she’s that afraid of your parents expressing disapproval of her, she may honestly think that you’re better off not being noticed by them, in which case it may be hard for her to believe that your feelings are valid or that you really have the problems you do.”
Helga took a moment to let all of that sink in. “You really think so?”
“Like I said, they’re only guesses” Bliss repeated. “But they seem to me like a plausible explanation for your sister’s behavior patterns based on everything you’ve told me.” And based on Bob’s phone call she thought privately. “But what do you think? Do they fit what you’ve observed about Olga?”
Helga took the next three minutes or so to think it over. “I…um…I don’t know. I guess, maybe. But how does that help me in any case?”
“Do you think having an idea of where your sister’s coming from might help you get her to listen?”
Helga took another three minutes or so to mull that one over, trying to picture how she might go about approaching this subject and getting through to Olga. She finally sighed with frustration and said “I don’t know”.
“Are there times when you could talk to Olga without your parents knowing about it?”
“Sure” Helga said with mild weary annoyance, “she’s always looking for opportunities to ‘bond’ with me. If I needed to talk to her, I could just ask her to take me out to the park or something.”
“What if you did that during this visit of hers in two weeks, and then told her that listening to what you have to say could bring you closer together as sisters?”
“Maybe that would work” Helga said with cautious optimism.
“How do you feel about Olga’s visit now?” Bliss asked.
“Still not really looking forward to it” Helga confided, “but I guess having a plan makes me feel a little bit better. I just hope it works.”
“I hope so too” said Doctor Bliss. “Any other thoughts on Olga?”
“Not really” said Helga.
“I was curious if you ever got to use any of the ideas we came up with for dealing with Brainy.”
“Brainy hasn’t been around lately” Helga said truthfully. She deliberately neglected to mention that there were often periods where Brainy didn’t seem to show up, and then he’d start popping up behind her during her Arnold monologues again. She firmly expected him to show up again, and when he did, she had every intention of hitting him again, but there was no need to tell Doctor Bliss that. During their previous session, Helga and Bliss had discussed how to non-violently stop Brainy from harassing her, but Helga still believed she had every right to just punch Brainy and would lie to Bliss to get her to leave her alone about the issue. Helga was sure Bliss meant well, but she was also sure Bliss didn’t understand how annoying Brainy could be and that grown-ups in general didn’t understand how necessary violence sometimes was to survive in the child world.
“Well, good” said Bliss, “maybe he’s finally learned his lesson”.
“Maybe” Helga lied.
“We have about four minutes left” said Bliss. “Is there anything else you’d like to talk about today?”
Helga briefly considered bringing up more, but this session had already given her a lot to think about with regard to Olga. “Nah”
“Then I’ll see you at the usual time after school on Tuesday?” Bliss asked.
“Yeah, see ya then” Helga confirmed.
Helga made her way out of the office, down the stairs and to the bus stop unsure what to think. She had a plan of action, but she knew that it may or may not make things better. Her mind wandered some more as she slipped into her trench coat and boarded the bus. Could Doctor Bliss have been right about Olga? Could it be that Olga really didn’t mean to be the #2 bane of her existence, but was scared to be a decent sister and didn’t realize the pain she was causing Helga? Helga wanted to believe that, but some bitter, cynical part of her still wasn’t ready to accept the idea.
That’s just way too good to be true, isn’t it? the cynical voice in her head asked rhetorically. This voice sounded a lot like the scoffing, snide voice she used out loud when talking to most of the other kids at school. Why not give her another chance? asked a more idealistic voice in her mind that sounded like Arnold. What’ve you got to lose? The two voices argued the issue back and forth for the rest of the bus ride and most of her walk home, until they were both interrupted by another part of Helga’s mind that sounded more like the vulnerable tone she sometimes used when she was alone. Well said that part of her, we’ll find out in two weeks, won’t we?
Finally, Helga reached her house. Rather than bother to ring the doorbell, she used one of the keys she’d stolen from Miriam when it became clear that Miriam was too far under the influence of her “smoothies” to open the door for her. Inside, she heard her parents excitedly discussing preparations for Olga’s arrival. She won’t be here for another two weeks! Helga thought resentfully. Don’t you have anything else to talk about? They barely noticed her walk past, and she went straight up to her room to visit her shrine and write some more poetry about Arnold.
Back at her office, Doctor Bliss looked over her notes on the session with Helga. She could only desperately hope that she’d been right about Olga, especially since she’d only been using what clues she had and her knowledge of psychology to make educated guesses about someone she’d never met. If Helga’s entire family continued to be uncooperative, Bliss knew she might have to encourage Helga to shift the focus of their sessions to learning coping mechanisms until she became old enough to move away from her family. Hopefully, it wouldn’t come to that.
She sifted through her schedule, looking over her clients for the next few days. Children from all grades, all economic levels, many races and both genders would be meeting her tomorrow and next week. It seemed that no matter where a person was in life or what traits they had, lots of people needed help from time to time, and she was glad to be there to provide it. How ironic, she thought, that Lila Sawyer’s next session would be the same day as Helga’s.